West Virginia and Duquesne women’s soccer teams wrapped up the spring season with a wild 2-2 draw that saw the 2016 NCAA Division I Runner-Up Mountaineers storm back with two late goals.
While a game like this doesn’t count in the standings, it was a good test for both clubs that have had their share of success in recent years.
“They played hard, kept a solid defensive shape and limited our chances for much of the game,” said Nikki Izzo-Brown, WVU’s coach.
“And they showed that they can be dangerous up front as we had to battle back.”
Indeed, the Dukes Katie O’Connor scored twice to give the Dukes the advantage.
O’Connor’s header in the early moments provided the early cushion, and then in the second half, the Dukes found a quick counter opportunity on a vertical through ball. O’Connor had no problem after sneaking behind the WVU back line, burying a shot from the right side to give the Dukes a 2-0 lead halfway through the second period.
After falling behind by a pair of goals, the Mountaineers quickly showed why they’ve been one of the top programs in the country, by stepping up the pressure.
WVU’s attack started show signs of breaking through when Hannah Abraham sent a terrific cross from the left side into the box that nearly connected.
Moments later, Abraham (Albert Gallitan HS) had her back to goal with the ball at her feet, turned and beat Dukes freshman keeper Lexi Cooke to cut the Duquesne lead in half with 12 minutes left.
Soon after that, WVU drew a foul in the box — and Carla Portillo‘s penalty attempt was saved by the freshman transfer from Akron.
With the clock running down — WVU would poke through the equalizer on its last possession (with :06 seconds left on the game clock) on a ball sent into the box.
“Obviously, when you are up two goals, and you don’t come away with the win, it can be disappointing, but we’re not disappointed with the performance,” said Al Alvine, Duquense Head Coach.
Alvine reflected on a positive spring campaign for a program that is coming off a third place finish in the Atlantic 10 in 2016, after winning the conference tournament in 2015.
“A lot of our players we have now were freshman when we won the A-10, and now bring more experience and did well today against a really good team,” added Alvine.
“We had a lot of players miss time this spring due to some injuries and illness, but overall, I really like where we are as a program heading into the fall.”
For Izzo-Brown and the Mountaineers, they concluded busy spring season looking to take another deep run at an NCAA title.
It won’t be easy, as the Mountaineers will face another difficult grind, including top-25 opponents in three of the first four weeks, as well as an annual match against Penn State, the 2015 National Champion.
“This is easily one of our toughest schedules ever,” Izzo-Brown said.
“I believe that this returning group is ready for the challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing how this team embraces these opportunities.”
“We have been a good program for some time now, so the target is going to be on our backs. It’s been a good spring, and we’re really looking forward to the Fall season now.”
I will have more on WVU’s women’s program and on women’s soccer in the coming weeks that includes more clips from interviews with both Brown and Alvine as part of another #PGHSOCCER Films series feature and special edition of College Soccer Show on Beautiful Game Network.